Sunday, October 6, 2013

A trip to Indy or the Noble Thing to do

Al writes...

Went down to Indianapolis last Sunday for the Railway Interchange show which I'll cover in another post.

The weather was so nice when I left Chicago that I thought perhaps a short side trip to Noblesville to visit the Indiana Transportation Museum was in order.  After exiting I 65 at Lebanon one encounters the former PRR station that is now serving as a restaurant -- Stats.

The national depot data base indicates that it was built in 1918 as a freight station for the PRR. I think the style of the building suggests that it was a passenger  station. The line was originally the Indianapolis & Frankfort. The track is quite elevated at this point, I presume to cross over the now
abandoned Big 4 right of way just to the north. 

The height of the elevation can be seen in this photo of the bridge over Main street just to the north of the station.

The elevation is of sufficient height that there is a tunnel into the fill presumably for access to an island platform on the formerly double track line.

To the south the overpass has been modified to accommodate a widening of South St. (IN 32).

The PRR logo cast into the abutment adds a bit of class to the structure.  The more intriguing aspect of this bridge is the curved passage to the south of the street.  This is obviously for a railway, Google Earth photos provide little clues as to the direction that this line took after passing to the west.  However, it is rather obvious that the line ran in or paralleled South St. to the east, left in the photo.
Since the THI&E's station in Lebanon was located on South St. could this have been the interurban ROW?  Of course most of the historic railway maps available on the web are either at the Library of Congress or at the USGS site.  Both of which are currently shut down.

Before departing CSX did grace us with a local operated by a mother and slug locomotive set.

As it turned out the road between Lebanon and Noblesville was closed and required a lengthy detour. By the time I got in the vicinity of Noblesville, I had caught up with the front that went through Chicago on Saturday night. Between the detour and lingering at the Lebanon station my arrival at ITM was not as timely as I had hoped (especially forgetting the difference in time zones). But I did have time for a quick look around.

For those of you that have never been to ITM it is located on the edge of a public park in central Noblesville on a former NKP route.

Their route is 38 miles (61 km) long,  originally built for the Indianapolis and Peru Railroad and today owned by the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority,  The route extends from Tipton, Indiana on the north, south to approximately 39th Street in Indianapolis. It is my understanding that the railroad no longer connects to the outside world. ITM is probably most famous for operating both passenger trains (using ex AT&SF 1937 Budd stainless steel coaches obtained from NJT) and caboose trains.

Here is the coach train arriving back at Forest Park, headed by #200 an ex UP GP9.

The caboose train, which also operated this day was (as the Brits would say) topped and tailed by an ex Monon SW 1 and an ex NKP GP 7.

The outdoor display area is rather cramped and difficult to photograph.  There are two other diesels on display both in NKP colors.  The Baldwin switcher is ex USN from the Crail Navel depot, the 44 tonner is indeed of NKP heratige.

ITM also has some F units on the roster all ex Milwaukee Road but one is painted in Monon passenger colors. They also have a steam locomotive NKP 2-8-2 587 that has been undergoing a rebuild since 2003.

For the electric railway fan there are several pieces of electric equipment on the property.  These include a battery motor formerly belonging to Mishawaka Twin BranchRailroad as their #4

 And Evansville & Ohio Valley #154.
Also visible are 2 former Indiana Railroad cars,

This appears to be Union Traction #437 a 1925 St. Louis car combine and below Indianapolis and Martinsville Rapid Transit #61, later THI&E and IRR #81 Jewett, 1902.

There are other electric cars owned by the museum including several CTA 4000s in both passenger service  and in service (yellow s class) configurations , CSS&SB 205, and CNS&M 172 and 606.  These cars were located in areas not open to the public.

One real jewel in the collection is this horse car from Indianapolis.

To keep Bob Kutella happy there were some nicely restored freight cars on display as well.

Also on display is this PRR logo similar to the one on the overpass in Lebanon. Note that keyston contains the letters PL rather than the more common PRR. I presume that this refers to the Pennsylvania Lines West, owner of much of PRR's lines in Indiana.

I will definitely have to make it back here with more time to wander and in better weather


Anonymous said...

For the record, that underpass at Frankfort, Indiana was indeed for the THI&E. If you look closely on the walls, the hangers for the span wires are still in place. I have a piece of THI&E span wire that I dug out of the dirt there twenty years ago.

Anonymous said...

Correction...Lebanon, not Frankfort.

Randall Hicks said...

Walt Stafa comments:

The underpass under the ex-PRR I&F branch was for the THI&E Lebanon to Crawfordsville branch. The interurban predated the railroad which the Pennsy didn't build till about 1917.

The big block of masonry with the Keystone and the PL on it looks like one from a parking structure in downtown Indy.